Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Stunning Killeavy Castle refurbishment to be unveiled next month

Excitement is building as the once dilapidated Killeavy Castle prepares to unveil its newly refurbished premises next month. 

The much-anticipated 4 star hotel and wellness centre, nestled on the slopes of Slieve Gullion, has been under construction for the last four years, after planning permission was granted to entrepreneur Mick Boyle of Jarasmas Investments Ltd in February 2015, to convert the historic castle into a 45 room boutique spa hotel and wellness centre. 

The Grade 1 listed building has been derelict for more than a decade before being given the new lease of life by Armagh native Mr Boyle and his wife Robin, who bought the run down castle for £1.2 million in 2013, with the dream of turning it into a “destination venue.”

Backed by AIB-owned First Trust Bank and Invest NI, who together gave £983,000 to support the project, the couple have spent two years painstakingly restoring the 19th-century castle, employing 90 local tradespeople in the process.

Mr and Mrs Boyle, who run a successful Sydney-headquartered construction company, have a special connection to south Armagh, with Mick born here before immigrating to Australia in the 1960’s.  In total, £12 million has been spent restoring the historic castle and estate to its former glory. 

The entrepreneurial couple say the renovations will put a modern twist on the traditional charm of the castle and were driven by a desire to “change the way people think about south Armagh.”

“We want to create a destination venue where tourists and local people can come to and enjoy great dining, access the beautiful mountain walks and feel very connected with their natural surroundings. We want Killeavy Castle to be a world class destination where people can escape the busyness of modern life and get closer to what’s important,” said Mr Boyle.

“What makes us unique is our location and heritage,” added the Killeavy Castle Estate owner, 

“We are situated at the foot of the mighty Slieve Gullion with unrivalled natural beauty and incredible views. Our heritage and provenance are at the heart of everything we do.”

The couple revealed that the hotel food will be sourced locally or grown in the estate’s walled garden and they have employed 85 staff who, by majority, live locally. 

Mr Boyle says the beauty of the countryside has also been incorporated into the design and interior of the castle and hotel, with the estate also housing a working farm with cheviot sheep and long-horned cattle.

Killeavy Castle itself now boasts four luxury bedrooms, a formal dining room, a cellar bar and private function facilities, all with restored period features. A marquee at the rear will provide entertainment space for weddings and events, with an underground tunnel once used as a servant’s passageway linking the castle to the newly built 45-bed boutique spa hotel.

The castle, has already attracted bookings for 50 events and will open formally next month.

General Manager, Jason Foody said there has been great demand for the “unique facilities” the castle and estate has to offer, “from fairy-tale wedding ceremonies to glamorous receptions.”

“We have had enquiries from all over the world including the US and Asia, with people excited to visit the estate and take in the breath-taking scenery.”

Gary Flynn, Business Acquisition Manager at First Trust Bank, added: “We are incredibly proud to have played a part in the restoration of Killeavy Castle.

“The exceptional attention to detail at every step of the project has resulted in the creation of one of the most stunning venues on the island of Ireland.

“Mick’s passion for south Armagh is infectious. It’s clear he is committed to creating hospitality excellence and showcasing the beauty and charm of the local area on a global stage. The castle itself still has so many of its quirky period features, sympathetically restored to its former glory!

Mr Flynn welcomed such a high-quality development of its kind enhancing the surrounding rural communities, describing it as “testament to the potential that is there to be harnessed.”

“The spectacular hotel will be a source of pride for the local people and we wish Mick, Robin, Jason and the team the best of luck with their opening in April.”